It looks as though Christmas will be a little bit different in 2020, and though this may well be a disappointing prospect for many people, it may mean that you spend less than in previous years. Thankfully, there are several ways in which you can save money in the run-up to the festive season, which will help ease the financial stress and prevent you from being skint through January.
1. Calculate Your Budget in Advance
It is easy to get carried away when Christmas shopping. But, unfortunately, many people often forget that all those goodies are going to have to be paid for, and the long-term consequences could lead to serious debt problems in the coming months.
To avoid financial problems in the New Year, make a budget planner, and ask yourself, “What can I realistically afford to spend this year? Christmas is just one day of the year, do not let it ruin the whole of the following year.
2. Stop Giving Unnecessary Presents
Cutting back on the number of people you give presents to is another way to avoid getting into financial difficulties this Christmas. This can be achieved by only buying presents for those closest to you, and although it can be a difficult decision, if you make a pact with friends with regards to not buying each other presents this year, you may be doing them a favour as well.
If you really must buy presents for everybody, arranging a secret Santa style gift with a spending limit of £5 or £10 among your friends would help keep costs down.
3. Sell Unused and Unwanted Items
If your Christmas budget could do with a boost, then why not raise some extra funds by selling those items you rarely use or need. eBay and Facebook are among the frontrunners when it comes to selling unwanted items, but there are other companies out there with smartphone apps that can be used for a quick sale. One thing to be wary of is selling fees, as some of these can be hefty, especially if the buyer lives abroad, so make sure you understand what fees are due before you begin selling.
4. Do Not Always Buy the Most Expensive Goods
When it comes to festive foods and fayre, people often flock towards the most expensive items thinking that this will guarantee their Christmas is extra special or memorable; the fancier turkey, the high-end Christmas crackers or luxury chocolates etc. Buying those expensive items, you would not typically buy on the other 364 days of the year just because it is Christmas is one sure-fire way to increase the cost of the season. However, it’s possible to have just as special a festive period on a budget, even more so because you’ll minimise the stress and burden.
5. Time Can Also Be a Present
The best presents do not always have to equal big money, as time can also be a great gift. So instead of getting out the chequebook, why not design your own Christmas gift vouchers. Get creative, and let your imagination flow with vouchers for anything from making that special someone breakfast in bed to doing the washing-up every day for a week, arranging a romantic picnic, babysitting, allowing the kids to have a sleepover…the list is only limited by your imagination.
6. Be Cautious When Buying Gift Cards
Gift cards are a great way to send some Christmas cheer to those who may live far away from you, but there are some things that you need to consider before buying them.
With so many retailers feeling the strain thanks to the current pandemic, it seems that no week goes by without another high-street name entering administration. Unfortunately, when this happens, most companies stop accepting gift cards, and they will not offer you your money back either.
Secondly, some gift cards have expiry dates. So when buying a gift card for someone, you need to make sure that there is plenty of time left to use it and don’t forget to tell the recipient that they will need to spend the gift card before the expiry date or risk losing out.
7. Grab the Best Discounts As Soon As You Can
Write your Christmas gift list as soon as possible, and then when you see that gift at a discounted price, buy it, wrap it and put it to one side, ready for the big day. Many popular online discount sites such as Wowcher, Groupon, and Wish offer big discounts on brand name items. Plus, plenty of retailers are already offering discounts as they struggle to make profits due to the pandemic.
8. Locate Local Ebay Bargains
No matter what you are in the market for, there could be a cheaper option to be found on eBay, with some sellers, often asking for the buyer to collect the item. This means there will be fewer bids, so you have more chance of being successful and with a lower bid than would be needed for items sent via the post. Plus, with the seller being local, you will save on the price of postage and packing, which can be sizeable for large or fragile items.
9. Buying Perfume? Then Buy Online
Things are often cheaper on the internet than in high-street stores, especially so for perfume, with online retailers offering much lower prices than the shops. You may also get the added option of foregoing the fancy packaging, so you just get sent the bottle of perfume, but you can then buy a much cheaper box or gift bag before gifting the item.
10. Use the Internet to Slash Delivery Costs
Sending bulky and heavy items via Royal Mail can be costly, so before you send that large Christmas gift, make sure you check out some of the other online delivery services, as you could save a lot of money. Plus, you may even save money and have the added benefit of having the item collected from your front door, so no more standing in a queue at the post office.
11. Make a List and Stick to It
Shopping on impulse can be costly at any time, but even more so at Christmas as retailers often spend large sums of money targeting people’s buying impulses, and a purchase made in haste can have dire financial consequences further down the line. Make a list, and in conjunction with setting a budget, make sure you stick to it.
12. Do Not Use Your Supermarket Vouchers for Christmas Food
It may be tempting to use those supermarket vouchers for when the time comes to buy your Christmas fayre, but if you use the vouchers on partner sites, you can often triple the value of the voucher. Therefore, a £10 voucher will be worth £30 on a partner website and so on, and this could mean huge savings on present buying.
13. Use Online Outlet Stores
Instead of travelling miles to the nearest outlet store, you can find massive savings on online outlet stores, with many big retailers now having their own outlet stores online, and these can often be found on eBay or via specialist websites.
14. Buy Your Train Tickets in Advance
Things may differ this year, as we do not yet know what travelling restrictions and size limits on gatherings will be in force this Christmas. However, if you will be travelling by train, then it is a good idea to book the tickets in advance, with most train companies typically offering advance tickets 10 to 12 weeks before travel. Nevertheless, don’t think you will not find a bargain even near the day of travel, as some rail operators offer discounted advance tickets up to the day before travel, so it is worth checking rather than just paying at the station on the day.
15. If It Costs Over £100 Buy on a Credit Card
Many companies are facing financial ruin due to the pandemic, so by using a credit card for purchases over £100, should the worst happen and the company goes bust, you will be able to reclaim the cost of the item or service through your credit card company.
16. Spread the Cost by Saving Early
Okay, this one will probably be better advice for Christmas 2021, but with the average household spend at Christmas coming in at over £750, it makes sense to start putting money away as soon as you can. So, start saving from January, and by the time Christmas 2021 comes around, you will not feel the pinch so much in December.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, these 16 tips will help you save some money at what is normally the costliest time of the year for most people. Just making a few simple adjustments can make a big difference to your finances in the run-up to the festive season, and the less you are worrying about money, the more you can enjoy your Christmas festivities.